Mike Pompeo made the remarks in a wide-ranging speech about security in the Arctic.
The Trump Administration appears increasingly concerned about the growing presence of China and Russia in the Arctic, and those concerns appear to be bringing up doubts about Canada’s claims in the region.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Canada’s claim to the Northwest Passage “illegitimate.”
Here’s the context of his remarks:
“No one denies Russia has significant Arctic interests,” Pompeo said in a transcript of remarks circulated by the U.S. State Department. “We recognize that Russia is not the only nation making illegitimate claims. The U.S. has a long-contested feud with Canada over sovereign claims through the Northwest Passage.”
Currently, Canada and the US have gentleman’s agreement of sorts, where Canada is allowed to claim the Northwest Passage while the US politely disputes it. So, Pompeo didn’t make new policy with his remarks, but he did express US views more forcefully than before.
The subtext to all of this is that Russia is engaged in a large-scale buildup on their Arctic territory, and China is making increasing inroads into the region as well.
Meanwhile, Canada has only a token Arctic presence, and our northern territory is undefended and disregarded by the federal government. Our military weakness makes it impossible for us to defend our northern territories.
And since we share a military alliance with the United States, we can expect more pressure to come from our neighbours to the North.
As I’ve long been saying – and before this latest incident – Canada needs to build up our military, including building up our ability to defend the Canadian Arctic.
Photo – YouTube